Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday that India will maintain its high growth rate for the next two decades, and will do better than China. India’s Gross Domestic Product grew at 8.2% in the first quarter of 2018-’19.

“Brick by brick, poor people are being pulled out of their substandard lives,” Jaitley said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi. The Narendra Modi-led government’s programmes are ensuring healthcare, food and housing for the poor, he claimed.

The finance minister asserted that the weakening of the Indian rupee against the dollar and rising fuel prices were temporary problems. “There are huge avenues for growth for Indian economy in the next 10-20 years,” said Jaitley. “I don’t think the sentiment with regard to Indian economy is negative.”

But Jaitley blamed the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance government for “mismanaging” the economy. “On economy, nothing was worse than 2013,” he said.

Jaitley backed the Supreme Court’s September 6 verdict decriminalising homosexuality. However, he disagreed with the view that sexuality is a part of free speech. “Supreme Court judgement on Section 377 is part of a sustained campaign for social reform,” Jaitley said. But he added: “Sometimes, you get carried away while making these historic judgements. I disagree with the judicial view that sexuality is a part of free speech. “How then do you restrain any sexual activity om army frontier, or in a school hostel,” he asked.

He also called the Aadhaar judgement “very sound”. “You have a system where you give a lot of the goverrnment’s money to all kinds of people,” he said. “Aadhar is meant for subsidies reaching the bank account directly.”